Immunisation for adults and seniors

Find out about immunisations for adults and seniors (aged 65 years or over)

Vaccines for adults and seniors

The National Immunisation Program schedule provides free vaccinations for adults and seniors. You may need booster doses of some vaccines to maintain high levels of protection. Most vaccines are more effective if delivered at a specific age.

The following vaccines are provided free to adults and seniors aged 65 years and over:

Age

Disease

 Pregnant women

Influenza and pertussis (whooping cough) – See Immunisation and pregnancy

Indigenous adults 50 years and over           

Pneumococcal

People 65 years and over

Influenza

People 70 years and over

Pneumococcal

People 70-79 years 

Shingles

Find more information:

Influenza vaccine

Influenza is especially serious for people 65 years and older and People with certain medical conditions that increase their risk of serious influenza disease and complications.

The annual influenza vaccine is free through the National Immunisation Program for:

  • adults aged 65 years or more
  • people with certain medical conditions

The influenza virus strains change every year – and the vaccine changes every year to match the new strains. That’s why it’s important for people to get the vaccine every year.

If you are not eligible for a free influenza vaccine, you can buy it privately through a GP, or other vaccination provider such as a chemist.

Find more information:

Shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine

Shingles (also called herpes zoster) is a disease caused when the chickenpox virus reactivates. Shingles can cause severe nerve pain that can last for months.

The shingles vaccine Zostavax® is free through the National Immunisation Program for people aged 70 years. People aged 71 to 79 years can get a free catch-up vaccination until 31 October 2023.

Note the Zostavax® vaccine contains a small amount of the live virus and is contraindicated in people who are immunocompromised.  Please discuss with your doctor or immunisation provider for further information.

Find more information: Shingles immunisation service

Pneumococcal vaccine

Pneumococcal disease is a bacterial infection. It is especially serious for older people. It can cause:

  • pneumonia
  • infection of the blood (sepsis)
  • inflammation of the membranes around the brain (meningitis).

The pneumococcal vaccine is free through the National Immunisation Program for:

  • adults aged 70 years old or more
  • 50 years old or more for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults.  

Find more information: Pneumococcal immunisation service 

Adults and seniors with medical risk conditions

Some adults with specific medical risk conditions may require additional vaccines. Speak to your doctor or vaccination provider about additional vaccines you may need.

Find more information: Immunisations for people with medical risk conditions     

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and seniors

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people get additional free annual influenza vaccines and pneumococcal vaccine at 50 years of age through the National Immunisation Program.

Please see your doctor for advice on what you may need. 

Get more information:  Immunisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Missed vaccinations

The vaccines listed below are part of the routine childhood schedule:

Generally, adults won’t need boosters. We recommend you talk to your doctor if you are not sure:

  • if you have had all the recommended vaccines
  • if you may need boosters
  • if someone in your care may need additional vaccines or boosters.

Please note that the National Immunisation Program does not cover adults and seniors for missed or catch-up vaccines. You can buy additional vaccines privately when you need to.

Refugees and other humanitarian entrants of any age can get National Immunisation Program vaccines for free. This is if they did not receive the vaccines in childhood.

Check the National Immunisation Program schedule and talk to your doctor or immunisation provider if you have not had all the recommended childhood vaccinations.

Booster vaccines

A booster is an extra dose of a vaccine that you have had previously.  It 'boosts' your immune system. 

The following vaccinations need booster doses.

  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Whooping cough (pertussis)

Diphtheria and tetanus vaccinations are given as diphtheria-tetanus (dT) or diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis) vaccinations.

Tetanus is a serious disease that causes severe muscle spasms, especially in the neck and jaw (called lockjaw). It can sometimes cause death.

A booster dose of a tetanus-containing vaccine is recommended for adults who:

  • are 50 years old or over
  • have not had a tetanus shot in the past 10 years
  • have a wound that is not a minor cut, and your previous dose was more than 5 years ago
  • have previously had a primary course of 3 doses.

Whooping cough (pertussis) is serious disease that can lead to pneumonia, brain injury and sometimes death. It can affect people at any age but is especially serious for babies.

Adults who have not had the whooping cough vaccine in the past 10 years should have a single booster dose if:

  • you are 65 years old or more
  • you are in close contact with infants.

The National Immunisation program does not cover booster vaccines for adults and seniors. You can buy additional vaccines privately when you need to. Talk to your doctor if you think you or someone in your care may need additional vaccines.

Find more information:

Getting vaccinated

Find out more about getting vaccinated, including:

  • where you can get vaccinated
  • if you need to pay
  • who can be vaccinated
  • what to expect at your vaccination visit
  • side effects.
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